Scott Burns

WASHINGTON — Cedar City native Scott Burns was officially sworn in as second in command of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy on Friday, giving the former Iron County attorney even more responsibility in reducing drug use in America.

Burns, whose official new title is the deputy director of the office, will work closely with the office's director, John Walters, known as the "drug czar," and fill in for Walters as needed.

"My job is going to be where the drug czar can't be," Burns said.

The new job will give Burns a more international perspective than his current position. Since 2002, he has been the office's deputy director for state, local and tribal affairs. Now as deputy, Burns said he will be "concerned with the poppies in Afghanistan and the cocaine in Colombia" as well as focusing on treatment and prevention.

Walters said that Burns will bring his "expertise, devotion and dedication" to his new role.

Burns also will continue to serve as U.S. representative to the World Anti-Doping Agency, an international organization dedicated to reducing and eliminating performance-enhancing substances from sport — a hot topic right now in light of the report outlining steroid use in baseball.

Prescription drug abuse remains a challenge. Burns said while abuse of marijuana and other drugs has gone down in the past five years, prescription drug abuse is increasing, so he will also focus on that during this last year of the Bush administration.

Bush initially nominated Burns on June 27 to replace Mary Ann Solberg, who resigned.

He testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Dec. 18 and then was quickly confirmed by the Senate and sworn in just before heading back to Utah for the holidays, joking that he could not have gotten a better Christmas present.

"I am humbled every day that a prosecutor from Cedar City is now walking through the halls of the White House," Burns said. "It's just a great honor."

Prior to going to the drug office in 2002, Burns was Iron County's attorney from 1986 to 2002. He is a graduate of Southern Utah University — where the former quarterback is a member of the SUU Sports Hall of Fame — and received his law degree from California Western School of Law.

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